Cote, McCarthy compete for County Commission
ALFRED — Incumbent Michael Cote of Shapleigh, running as an Independent, is being challenged in the Nov. 8 election by Republican James McCarthy for York County Commission District 4, which includes Alfred, Lyman, Sanford, Shapleigh and Waterboro.
Cote, originally of Sanford, was a Wells Police reserve officer for 10 years, and worked for the York County Sheriff ’s Office from 2001-09, serving part-time in court security and as chief of the civil process division. He owns a sewing machine business.
Cote serves on the Maine County Commissioners Association executive board, and is a member of the Maine Jail Standards Board. He and his wife, Dianne Johnson Cote, have six children, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
McCarthy is the owner of Strategic Financial Insights, a business consulting and revenue enhancement firm that works with area businesses. He has worked on numerous elections, chairs the Lyman Republican Committee, and is a member of the executive committee of the York County GOP.
He lives in Lyman with his life partner, Sandra Lamb. Each brought a son to the family, Noah, and Connor, who died earlier this year of complications with diabetes. The couple has two grandchildren.
McCarthy, who said he has worked with budgets as great as $30 million during the course of his career, said budgetary control and fiduciary responsibility must happen for each and every line item of the county budget.
“Developing ongoing review and more importantly, maximization for the funds for the county benefit” is crucial, he said. “I understand how to read, review, write, and most importantly, maximize the results of a budget.”
Cote said he is working with the Maine County Commissioners Association to develop legislation to compel the state to pay a set daily fee for inmates held in county jails for more than nine months.
“I would also favor other legislation that would take some of the financial burden off county taxpayers by changing the sentencing time served by inmates in the county jails over to the state prison system where they belong,” he said. “The county jails were never meant to be long-term holding facilities, yet some inmates spend years in county jails.”
He pointed to the county’s effort to establish, through the criminal justice system, a drug recovery center in a county-owned building adjacent to York County Jail. The county is looking for state and federal funding for the center.
“(This would) help people that want to get off drugs get the help they need,” said Cote.
He added that the center would save money as well by not having addicts in jail. Because they don’t get the therapeutic help they need while incarcerated, he said, they are more likely to use again once they’re released, and land back in jail.
Cote favors locating the new consolidated York County Courthouse on land adjacent to the jail in Alfred that the county has offered to the state for free, as it is centrally located in the county and accessible to all.
He said the location would save thousands in prisoner transport costs, and if located elsewhere, county taxpayers may be asked to approve a bond to build a new York County District Attorney’s office near the new court.
Cote also said he would work with municipal officers and legislators to draft legislation to help lower costs to house inmates, and favors a full return of the jails to county control – provided the state is willing to fund costs incurred by them for housing inmates. He does not favor lifting the current tax cap associated with county jails.
Noting the jail tax cap was put in place in 2008 during the John Baldacci administration, McCarthy said he can’t say lifting the cap is the answer, but raised the possibility of adding inflation growth and prisoner population increase tools to the mix.
“I do know that right now the system is broken,” said McCarthy.
He said York County Jail passes state inspections “with flying colors.”
“That shows we are well on the way to (full) county operation with the anchor of the jail tax cap,” he said. “I believe a strong county commission, taking the lead to put the best interest of York County citizens first, we can find a way to solve this and any problem that comes down the road.”
McCarthy said York County and county commissioners need to bridge the gap between state and county government.
“There needs to be trust and reliance between our state reps and senators and the county commissioners. County government should work as stewards for the state for effective and seamless service for our residents,” he said.
McCarthy also said York County government needs to be more active in the community and seen as a resource for its citizens. “It’s important for the commissioners to recognize and put forth the efforts to build the relationships and not just offer lip service,” he said.
— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.